I don't want friends and family to think that we are on one long vacation in Italy here. That is why I always try to blog about real life here in Italy. Yesterday life got a little bit too real for me. Here is a disclaimer to say that the following blog may be a little "TMI" (too much information) for some people and that those under 50 may not find this blog interesting at all and will certainly not find it anywhere as humorous as those over 50 will, but I want to KEEP IT REAL here and yesterday was definitely real. So here goes......
Getting our prescription drugs filled has always been a real challenge when we lived in Japan, England and now Italy. It has been more of a challenge here in Italy because the mail is not as reliable. Most of the time we have my Dad, Melissa or a friend to pick up our filled prescriptions and mail them to us. With health insurance the way it is now that is always a challenge because insurance sometimes won't fill some prescriptions but every 30 days or until a certain time and when you throw in 7-10 days mailing time, well, we have a problem. PEEHIP (our insurance) made the stupid decision NOT to have a mail order option so brick and mortar pharmacy is our only option at this time.
Over a week ago I asked Melissa to call our pharmacy that shall remain unnamed here to re fill my Prempro. If you don't know what this is I need to explain here. It is an HRT (hormone replacement therapy). I started taking a low dose about 6 months ago so I wouldn't accidentally kill someone who said something to irritate me at the wrong time ( all you middle aged menopausal women know exactly what I mean!). If you are female and not there yet you will be someday, trust me. After menopause it's amazing how irritating some things and people can be :-) So Melissa called our pharmacy on a Monday, asked them to fill my prescription and mail it to me. They said they would. End of story.
I knew I was going to run out on Friday but I thought, well the Prempro would be here on Monday or Tuesday (hopefully!). So on Monday I decided I better called unnamed pharmacy to ensure they DID mail it out to me. I get on Skype to make the phone call ....having to wait until 4 pm my time until they opened at 9 a.m. THEIR time. Skype cut me off 3X. Remember I'm off my meds here. Steve finally calls for me on his Skype account and gets through. I can tell from his end of the conversation it's not going well. Let's just say they did not fill OR mail my Prempro. Fortunately, I don't think they could hear what I said from the other side of the room. I am not happy with the drugstore!
So there I am, off this medication for 3 days now which medically I'm not supposed to just quit taking. My pharmacy has NOT sent it to me. What do I do now? I call my good friend that I always call in a bind that I will let remain anonymous here who calls my Dr.'s nurse. We attempt to get a prescription emailed to me (can't do this, it's not allowed), It's the end of the day on Monday, I'm without meds another day.
Tuesday morning I wake up with an email with all my Dr's contact information and head to the base clinic to try to get my prescription filled. The nice pharmacist there is very, very helpful but cannot fill the prescription without a copy of it from Alabama (we are 7 hours ahead of Alabama). PLUS they don't carry what I take, I would need to take 2 different types of meds. Remember I am off of my Prempro for 5 days now and my patience on a scale of 1-10 is about a 1. She finally suggests I try the Italian pharmacy since they are more relaxed about dispensing drugs and might can help me. If this doesn't work we agree I will come back on Wed. and ask for an appointment and a new prescription (which I will have to pay for an file on my insurance myself). Did I mention I am NOT happy with the Alabama drugstore! Soooooooo.......
I have to wait for 3 hours because the Italian pharmacies close from 1-4 pm every day. Hey, it's Italy! At 4 pm I manage to find the Italian pharmacy on my own, park, get out of the car with everything I need....hand written what I'm taking (from the base pharmacist), my empty blister pack of Prempro, my email from my Alabama Dr.'s nurse, etc. I am praying someone speaks some English! I go up to the door and it won't open even though I can see people inside. So I am turning around looking puzzled and then the man sitting in the car watching me with his own puzzled look just points toward another door (that is standing WIDE OPEN) and I look at the door, look at him ......and give him the thumbs up. I walk through the front door :-).
There are two pharmacists on duty. Fortunately I get the woman pharmacist who appears to be mid 30's or so. I ask if she speaks English and she says "a little". I slowly and simply begin to explain what the problem is and ask if I can get this and give her the empty Prempro package. She takes it and begins to look in the computer seeing if they have it. She's looking puzzled, calls the other pharmacist over, they are talking in Italian, looking at the package, looking at what the base pharmacy wrote down and I am thinking.....if I can't get this today I'm going to go berserk. I can see the headlines now. Small American woman goes crazy in Italian pharmacy. She finally begins to explain that she can get it in a smaller dosage but in Italy they don't carry that exact dosage. I tell her "Well, something is better than nothing" and I tell her that I need to get back on it before I choke someone.....and I make a motion like I'm doing that. She smiles big and nods her head. I hope the humor came across and she didn't think I was a danger to anyone LOL
At the end of the day, she gave me a blister pack of Prempro, not at my exact dosage and it cost me 25 Euro which I happily, happily paid with a big smile on my face. I could tell she was amused. I told her "Grazia" several times and she smiled big and nodded her head. After paying and gathering up my things I headed for the door (that I came in by). It would not open for me. So I am standing there trying to get out. My nice lady pharmacist comes out from behind the counter, directs me to the OTHER door with a smile on her face and I tell her......"Grazia, Grazia"! I guarantee you that whole place laughed once I was gone and my pharmacist will tell friends about the crazy American lady that so desperately needed her hormones she couldn't even find her way out the door!
PS I took the first dose as soon as I got in the car.
PSS And now I am headed out this morning to shop with friends at some Italian thrift stores.
Don't say I didn't warn you that this was probably too much information for some of you LOL Keeping it real here!